The University of Florida Shands Cancer Center defines electrolytes as body chemicals that regulate physiological functions and contain the minerals sodium, chloride, magnesium, potassium and calcium. Electrolyte ions dissolve in water, promoting nerve and muscle functions. An electrolyte imbalance occurs when the body loses enormous amounts of fluids by excessive sweating, vomiting, diarrhoea, fevers and cancer treatments like chemotherapy. In addition to these conditions, people who are malnourished or suffer from eating disorders suffer from electrolyte imbalances. The signs and symptoms of electrolyte imbalance cause the body to weaken.
A common sign and symptom of electrolyte imbalance is fatigue and the inability to complete necessary tasks. Fatigue goes beyond just being tired. A person cannot even get herself out of bed in order to do run errands, handle household chores or go to work. Medical treatments like chemotherapy or surgery and excessive outdoor activity cause fatigue.
Shands Cancer Center states that signs and symptom of electrolyte imbalances include muscle problems in many people. The types of muscle problems include muscle spasms, weakness, uncontrolled muscle twitching and muscle cramps. Muscle problems occur because of lack of nutrients to the neurotransmitters to the brain.
The heart needs the right balance of fluids and nutrients in order to pump blood throughout the body; however, when a person is suffering from an electrolyte imbalance, a few of the signs and symptoms affect heart functions. People may begin experiencing irregular heartbeats or notice circulation problems in the extremities. Additionally, a person's blood pressure quickens or slows, creating arterial blood flow problems. If heart problems occur, a person can use salt tablets for immediate relief but should go to the hospital to make sure no permanent damage has occurred in the heart and circulatory system.
Bones, Teeth and Hair
Bone disorder, deteriorating tooth enamel and thinning hair indicate that someone has an electrolyte imbalance. These visible signs and symptoms occur because electrolytes contain minerals such as calcium and magnesium that are instrumental in creating a healthy internal environment for healthy bones, teeth and hair. When people suffer from eating disorders, these visible signs usually alert loved ones that they are suffering from this condition. If not treated, an electrolyte imbalance can lead to osteoporosis, periodontal problems and continual hair loss.
Dizziness and Confusion
Shands Cancer Center says that dizziness and confusion are two common signs and symptoms of electrolyte imbalances. These two symptoms often accompany one or more of the other signs of this serious health condition. When a person becomes dizzy, the room begins spinning and the individual must sit down or get into a reclined position to avoid injury. Confusion, in conjunction with dizziness, may cause a person to forget where he is and lose his balance. People around her may notice slurred speech or even the inability to speak. Once the person suffering from an electrolyte imbalance has been seated, loved ones should call 9-1-1 or assistance.